How to Plant a Sugar Pine Tree

A couple weeks ago the Grow Wild Team participated in planting Sugar Pine trees in the Lake Tahoe Basin with the Sugar Pine Foundation. 

Did you know that Sugar Pines have the largest pine cones at an average length ranging between 11-18 inches. The trees reach heights of 200 ft tall. But, Sugar Pines are dying out in the Lake Tahoe region because of non-native, invasive fungus called White Pine Blister Rust(WPBR). It is incurable and kills 90% of the Pines it infects.  

The Sugar Pine Foundation finds trees that are resistant to WPBR and collects their cones and plants their progeny. They collect "healthy candidates" among the dead and dying trees. The ones they collect are potentially resistant to the disease. Then they record the area they found them and go from there. 

How to Plant a Sugar Pine?

The Sugar Pine Foundation picks a location that is a sustainable planting site in the Lake Tahoe Basin that needs reforestation. They then organize plating opportunities in the spring and fall because the soil is naturally moist and the conditions are best then. They teach their volunteers how to plant and the background information they need to know about the Pines. 

First, the tree needs to be about 10 feet away from another baby sugar pine. Then you need to clear the area of debris (but don't get rid of it because you'll use it to cover the tree up with.) 

Second, get a shovel and starter to dig. If there are any rocks in the way, dig them up or move to another location. Once the hole is big enough for the baby sugar pine have someone hold the tree while they add the gelatin substance (the foundation will supply) that holds water for the tree.

Third, you'll start to move the dirt you removed back into the hole around the tree and its roots. Once it's snug someone can lightly and carefully walk in a circular motion around the baby tree. After, do a lite tree tug test to make sure it's in there. 

Lastly, make sure you tag the tree and/or put a box of sticks around it so it's easy for the foundation to go back and find the next year. 

On average about 20% of the trees will make it the next year, this is a greater percentage than the seeds that will fall from the trees and reproduce on their own. 

If you want to find out how you can help plant Sugar Pines in Tahoe with the Sugar Pine Foundation click here to follow along.